Many patients diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease may have been experiencing worsening of their symptoms.
Despite their best attempts to improve their diet and take their medication regularly, they may still feel unpleasement. Dairy might be one of the reasons for that.
Dairy products can have many negative effects on the body when the person has Hashimoto’s disease, but do you know why? Let’s take a look at this mysterious development.
Hashimoto’s disease – causes, symptoms, possible treatments
Hashimoto’s disease, also referred to as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a well-known autoimmune disease which develops as a side-effect of the body attacking itself due to unknown causes.
Researchers suggest that genetics[i] are closely related to the development of Hashimoto's disease, as there are no other known risk factors for this.
Researchers also suggest that Hashimoto’s disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. As you probably know, hypothyroidism represents a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce or secretes enough amounts of the thyroid hormones. That is why Hashimoto’s disease is linked with well-known symptoms of hypothyroidism.
The symptoms might not develop right away, as a couple of years could go by while the individual does not experience any symptoms.
The good news is that there is a good treatment plan for Hashimoto’s disease that these patients can use. The treatment plan includes some serious lifestyle changes and taking a synthetic hormone that replaces the thyroxine in the body which, due to Hashimoto’s disease, is not produced in the needed amounts. If left untreated, Hashimoto’s disease has been linked to some serious complications including anemia, heart problems, reduced libido, depression, high cholesterol, etc.
What kind of a diet does Hashimoto’s disease require?
As we mentioned earlier, Hashimoto’s disease can be completely controlled with the use of a carefully chosen diet, and regular intake of external hormones, such as Synthroid or Armour Thyroid.
But what diet does Hashimoto’s disease require?
How are these patients supposed to choose the best diet plan for themselves?
For patients with Hashimoto’s disease, and with any other thyroid issues in general, there are some nutrients that are given special importance.
These would be iodine, selenium, and zinc. You can learn more about these supplements here.
Knowing that iodine is what takes part in the production of both thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), it is expected for the levels of these two hormones to drop if the body has an iodine deficiency.[ii]
Patients who are at risk of developing Hashimoto’s disease, as well as those who have been already diagnosed with this disease, have to do whatever is in their power to satisfy their daily requirements for iodine.
For adults, the recommended daily intake of iodine is around 150 mcg, as for Hashimoto’s disease patients, these numbers are suggested to grow.
Iodine can be introduced to the body through natural sources such as shrimp, tuna, and eggs among many others. Taking supplements that are high in Iodine is generally not recommended for those with Hashimoto’s disease.
The thyroid gland contains the highest concentration of selenium in the body.
A subgroup of selenoproteins known as deiodinases is responsible for converting the inactive T4 into an active T3.
If there is too little selenium in the body, the T3 levels will drop, while the T4 levels will rise, what will only cause free radicals to be more present, ultimately causing damage to the thyroid gland, especially now that there is no selenium to act as a powerful antioxidant.[iii]
The recommended daily intake of selenium is around 300 mcg a day, and you can use either a selenium supplement, or natural sources such as chicken, turkey, fish, and beef to satisfy your needs.
Zinc is essential for good thyroid health in many ways.
For starters, if the body faces zinc deficiency, there will be too little thyroid hormones being produced. In addition, zinc is also essential for the conversion of T4 into T3.[iv]
The recommended dosages of zinc are between 8 to 11 mcg. Natural sources such as whole grains, meat, shellfish, legumes, eggs, etc. should be used as well as, a proper zinc supplement to satisfy our daily needs for this valuable mineral.
Some of the best diets that a Hashimoto’s disease patient can follow are a gluten-free diet, the paleo diet, and vegetarian and vegan diets. [v]The key is to choose a diet that will provide all of the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients for your body, by carefully selecting the foods that you are supposed to eat on a daily level.
The idea is to avoid certain food products that are considered to worsen the present inflammation in the patient’s body. One example would be dairy products.
Should you eat dairy products if you struggle with thyroid issues such as Hashimoto’s disease?
If you are struggling with Hashimoto’s disease, you are generally recommended to avoid diary along with gluten, soy, and artificial sugars. But why is that?
Dairy products are the source of many important nutrients, and yet they can cause your condition to worsen.
Any patients diagnosed with thyroid issues, especially the ones with Hashimoto’s disease, are advised to peruse the elimination of dairy from their diets.[vi]
In many patients with thyroid issues, a certainly increased dairy sensitivity has been noticed. In fact, dairy sensitivity is just as common as gluten sensitivity is in these patients.
Unfortunately, the protein that is found in the dairy products has been noticed to increase the present inflammation in the thyroid gland and in the digestive tract, causing the symptoms to worsen. By doing so, the possibility for other nutrients to be absorbed is reduced, and your body is no longer able to heal itself as it used to.
But that is not all.
Lactose, which is the natural sugar found in dairy products, also damages and reduces the ability of the small intestine to absorb, not only the needed nutrients but also, the medication and most importantly the thyroid medication that these patients are taking. This leads to the unavoidable need to increase the dosage of thyroid medication that the Hashimoto’s disease patients and any other thyroid issue patients are taking.
Dairy has also been found to increase the growth of harmful bacteria, yeast, and fungi in the digestive tract, causing digestive issues such as bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, and reflux to develop. This certainly worsens the patient’s everyday life.
To better understand what we are talking about, let’s take a look in one quite popular scientific study[vii]. The study was published in 2013, in Endocrine. For the purpose of the study, a total of 83 patients, diagnosed with Hashimoto's thyroiditis who have been treating their symptoms by using Levothyroxine, were enrolled as a part of the study.
The next step involved performing lactose intolerance among the participants. The results showed that lactose intolerance had been diagnosed with 75.9% of the participants. Thirty-eight of the patients diagnosed with lactose intolerance were advised towards a dairy-free diet. After eight weeks, the results were surprising!
What the researched successfully confirmed was the fact that by restricting dairy products from their diet, the lactose intolerance patients experienced a decrease in TSH levels. By this happening, the patients' small intestines were once again more able to absorb the thyroid medication and with that, to reduce their increasing need for taking higher dosages of the medication in the future.
By cutting dairy products from their diet, the patients have been able to improve their overall health by increasing their nutrient and thyroid medication absorption in the small intestine.
This is the reason why Hashimoto’s disease patients are advised towards perusing mostly the paleo diet and the vegan diet both of which exclude any use of dairy products.
Instead, there is a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, tofu, whole grains, seeds, and species that they can use to prepare delicious meals and avoid any possible worsening of their condition.
In fact, one of the best diets that the Hashimoto’s disease patients are advised to peruse is the autoimmune paleo diet (APD), which clearly excludes all use of animal products and relays only on the food products that our ancestors have survived on in the past.
By eliminating dairy products, soy, gluten, and artificial sugars, you will be able to improve your condition and your overall health.
If you are worried about facing a deficiency of any nutrient, try natural sources and thyroid support supplements into your diet.
In conclusion, if you have Hashimoto’s disease, it is recommended you avoid dairy products.
Because Hashimoto’s disease often increases the lactose sensitivity within its patients, using dairy products can only lead to worsening of their existing symptoms and perhaps even occurring some new ones.
Luckily, these patients have plenty of other food products and diet plans that they can try to satisfy their hunger and maintain their health at an optimum level.
[i] Zaletel, K., & Gaberšček, S. (2011, December). Hashimoto's Thyroiditis: From Genes to the Disease. Current Genomics, 12(8): 576–588. doi: 10.2174/138920211798120763
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3271310/
[ii] Liontiris, M. I., & Mazokopakis, E. E. (2017). A concise review of Hashimoto thyroiditis (HT) and the importance of iodine, selenium, vitamin D and gluten on the autoimmunity and dietary management of HT patients.Points that need more investigation. Hellenic Journal of Nuclear Medicine 20(1):51-56. doi: 10.1967/s002449910507
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28315909
[iii] Ventura, M., Melo, M., & Carrilho, F. (2017). Selenium and Thyroid Disease: From Pathophysiology to Treatment. International Journal of Endocrinology,2017, 1-9. doi:10.1155/2017/1297658
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5307254/
[iv] Mahmoodianfard, S., Vafa, M., Golgiri, F., Khoshniat, M., Gohari, M., Solati, Z., & Djalali, M. (2015). Effects of Zinc and Selenium Supplementation on Thyroid Function in Overweight and Obese Hypothyroid Female Patients: A Randomized Double-Blind Controlled Trial. Journal of the American College of Nutrition,34(5), 391-399. doi:10.1080/07315724.2014.926161
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25758370
[v] Hashimoto Disease Diet. (n.d.).
Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/hashimoto-diet#best-diet
[vi] Woody, S. Dietary Intervention for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Auto-immune Protocol.
[vii] Asik, M., Gunes, F., Binnetoglu, E., Eroglu, M., Bozkurt, N., Sen, H., . . . Ukinc, K. (2013). The decrease in TSH levels after lactose restriction in Hashimoto's thyroiditis patients with lactose intolerance. Endocrine,46(2), 279-284. doi:10.1007/s12020-013-0065-1
Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12020-013-0065-1